As reports of job stress increase, the negative impact it has on health and wellness has become more and more prevalent. Stress can be divided into two types: short and long-term. Looming deadlines and double shifts may sound bad in theory, but the human body is surprisingly adept at handling short-term stress – even mental ones. However, long-term stress – like a new boss who micro-manages every single thing that you do – is a different story altogether.
In both cases, your body produces hormones like adrenaline and cortisol as part of a natural survival response. When these hormones fail to dissipate after long periods of time, cholesterol levels increase and so does your risk of heart disease.
However, not all of us react to certain jobs the same way. What you find to be stressful might be a walk in the park for others. Yet, the ways that stress in the workplace affect our heart health is far from ambiguous:
- Panic attacks and spikes in blood pressure
- Emotional volatility and violent outbursts
- Poor sleep quality and low focus
- Compromised immune system
- Stress/binge eating as a coping mechanism
Proper nutrition and active living might be instrumental to good heart health, but even the best of efforts can be compromised when they’re exposed to a constant barrage of stress factors. Keeping yourself heart-healthy at work tends to work best when you take proactive measures against poor health habits.
Simple things like taking short walk every 15 minutes or so, keeping a water tumbler handy, and practicing some desk-bound stretches can be easy but effective ways to ensure that your heart gets enough blood and oxygen. This becomes even more important for older workers due to the concern of age-related arterial stiffness.
For desk-bound workers, sedentary habits present one of the larger risks to heart health due to its carryover to everyday life. If you get comfortable with staying seated at a desk six hours a day, you’re not likely to want to do something different with the time you have left once you reach home. Couple that with the poor eating habits that have become so common in today’s fast-paced office environment and you’ve got a heaping mess of trouble that just might do you in.
Heart disease can be mitigated through healthy behaviour. In a workplace environment, we often find ourselves forgoing common sense for the sake of productivity and “blending in”. While the thought of numerous work accolades might seem enticing, it should not have to come at the expense of your health. Your heart might be in your work, but you don’t want to reach a point where your heart NEEDS work.